Director Shane Carruth’s ‘Upstream Color’ is the year’s best sci-fi film that nobody has seen. Yet.

October 26, 2013

from OMNI Reboot

Filmmaker Shane Carruth made his bones in the indie film world with the 2004 science fiction puzzlePrimer. The ultra-low budget film, concerning a group of engineers who accidentally invent time travel, collected the Grand Jury Prize at that year’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s become something of a legend in filmmaking circles: Primer was made for a little over $7,000 with Carruth acting as director, writer, producer, cinematographer, editor, actor and musical composer. For lovers of brainy, conceptual sci-fi, it’s a real gem.

Earlier this year, Carruth’s long-anticipated second film, Upstream Color, also premiered at Sundance. It was released in April to select theaters, then quietly ported to DVD and digital distribution. Upstream Colormade a splash at Sundance with the critics, but outside of art house devotees and attentive film nerds, the official release barely registered.upstream-color

The film’s extremely quiet, extremely slow roll-out is all part of the plan, according to Carruth. The filmmaker, never one to delegate, handled distribution himself. “The people that this is for, it will be for,”Carruth told The Los Angeles Times. “Everything about the choice to do the distribution is about contextualizing.”

Sure enough, Upstream Color is getting a second life thanks to that most reliable of grassroots distribution strategies, word-of-mouth. And that’s genuinely good news, because Upstream Color is a gorgeous and intricate film—one of the year’s best—and a giant leap forward for Carruth as a storyteller and filmmaker.

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